Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Hamlet, Hamlet--Everywhere!

“Cyberwoman.” By Chris Chibnall. Perf. John Barrowman, Eve Myles, Naoko Mori, and Gareth David-Lloyd. Dir. James Strong. Torchwood. Season 1, episode 4. BBC Wales. 5 November 2006. DVD. 2 Entertain Video, 2007.
Am I stretching things, or is this really a Shakespearean moment? I watched this episode of Torchwood (a Doctor Who spinoff—and, I’m afraid, a rather disappointing one) during Spring Break, and I was struck by an allusion to Shakespeare. This time, it wasn’t an allusion to the text of any of his plays or to his biography; rather, it was an allusion to a stage direction in Hamlet.

The scene is the last in Act III. Hamlet has killed Polonius and confronted his mother. The folio stage direction reads “Exit Hamlet tugging in Polonius” (III.iv.219). Later, the queen says that he has gone “To draw apart the body he hath kill’d” (IV.i.24). Here, the character played by Gareth David-Lloyd (who just has a nifty name) exits with the words, “I’ll hide the body. Everything’s going to be okay.”

Clearly, Hamlet has influenced Torchwood at the deepest possible level! “Everything’s going to be okay” was precisely what Hamlet was thinking when he stowed Polonius away. It doesn’t matter that the plot of the episode involves a half-completed cyberwoman who accidentally kills the man pictured above in an attempt to turn him into a cyberman. It’s Hamlet, sure enough!

You seem skeptical.

Maybe I’ll just have to put together a slideshow of all the Hamlets drawing apart the bodies of all the Poloniuses. Maybe then you’ll be convinced.

In the meanwhile, just note that the word “Torchwood” is an anagram of the phrase “Doctor Who.” Cool.

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Unless otherwise indicated, quotations from Shakespeare's works are from the following edition:
Shakespeare, William. The Riverside Shakespeare. 2nd ed. Gen. ed. G. Blakemore Evans. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1997.
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